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It's Your Right to Know:
A Research Guide on Juvenile Justice in California

April 2003


Over the last twenty-five years the State of California has instituted one of the largest criminal justice crackdowns on young people in the country. This targeted assault on youth and communities of color has ripped apart families and destroyed lives. During this period, prison spending in California grew by 794% while higher education spending increased by only 296% . This unprecedented attack has been intensified by initiatives like Proposition 21, the so-called "Juvenile Crime Initiative," that allows courts to try juveniles as adults and expands the definition of a "gang," and Proposition 184 (Cali's infamous "Three Strikes" law) that counts many juvenile offenses as "strikes."

Knowing where to get the facts about this system of injustice is a first step in exposing and confronting that injustice. Being able to access and use information in campaigns is often the difference between knowing that a proposed law or new regulation is wrong and being able to demonstrate to others why it's wrong and should be defeated. This takes accurate and timely information. The Data Center has been providing this type of information to organizations for years.

Together with Books Not Bars we have created this guide to help organizations identify the crucial links between government institutions, politicians, and corporate interests that work together to maintain a criminal justice system that targets and incarcerates our youth at an alarming rate.

About This Guide

We've created this research guide for youth and criminal justice activists, organizers, and advocates in California to use to quickly find criminal justice information sources, including juvenile justice information and statistics. This guide is organized by research topic and contains listings of California government agencies on the state, county, and municipal level that have information on everything from juvenile arrest and incarceration rates to information about local civilian police review boards. Organizers will be able to reference criminal and juvenile justice facts by going straight to the departments and officials who have the data they need. This guide will be especially useful for youth groups doing research on local and state police forces and corrections, or investigating the demographics of who's being targeted for arrests and imprisonment. The guide will also be useful for groups who are looking into which corporations and individuals are helping to fund the Prison Industrial Complex.

We have tried our best to detail how to access records both online and offline. We have provided contact information (other than a web address) for all statewide agencies and departments. Since contact information for county and municipal agencies will vary across counties and cities we do not attempt to provide a complete listing of contacts. To find local phone numbers and addresses you can do a quick Internet search or you can scan your phone book's governmental listings section.

Now, more than ever youth and criminal justice activists need access to information. This guide is designed to help address that need. We hope you find it useful and easy to use. If, however, you run into stumbling blocks, have questions, or are unable to find the information you need please feel free to contact the DataCenter at (510) 835-4692 or email us at You can also check out our website,, which has web-based research resources for a variety of political issues (like welfare reform, education, environmental justice, and corporate accountability-in addition to our "Criminal Justice and Prisons" section).

A joint project of the DataCenter's Criminal Justice Program & Youth Strategy Project and Books not Bars.

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Investigating the Police
Prison Expansion
Criminal Justice Demographics
Budgets & Campaign Contributions
More Criminal Justice Research Resources


Sample Public Records Requests
Tips on Filing Public Records Requests
Glossary of Government Agencies & Departments
California Juvenile Justice System Map

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